To “hold space” was difficult for me to grasp. And still to this day, I work on mastering this skill as it is definitely a skill.
Like so many of us, we were raised to NOT trust our own judgement, our opinions… or even our own thoughts. How many times did I hear my parents inform me that I was “ridiculous” or that I was being “completely silly.” To do what they said and never question them. We were taught to listen to instructions from someone else – someone of authority–an expert in that field or specialty. Remember “Mother knows best or Father knows best?” Boy did they get that wrong. Even today, these industries’ experts, these people of authority, are getting it wrong over and over…
So…for myself, I had to learn to trust my own gut. Something that was always there within me, but I was taught not to listen to it. I had learn to reach deep into my heart to determine if something was right and real for ME. I learned that these authorities – these experts, were only sharing or teaching their opinion and nothing more. Even if you add in a lot of facts…the bottom line is that what they say is only an opinion. No one can ever know everything about everything about every person in every situation in every scenario. They can only provide their opinion.
Now don’t get me wrong… I still take information (opinions) for the different “industries’ authorities”, doctors and the like, but I now take that information and do my own personal assessment and research, to see if I agree or disagree, and then move forward from my own perspective. I take responsibility for myself. I may even reach out and get multiple opinions, but I have re-learned to trust my own intuition and inner wisdom.
And then I became an expert – in many fields, and I started blaring out my opinions and expected everyone to follow my expert opinion as I was taught. Boy was I wrong. I started doing the same thing from the opposite side of the coin.
Now permit me to present this from a mother’s perspective. As a new mother many years ago, I found my young children doing what I called at that time: “Hand holding.” If there was something new that either of my children needed to do or want to do, they would ask me to just “hold their hand.” Nothing more. They wanted to do this new task all by themselves, but they wanted the support there if needed. So I figuratively “held their hand” while they did this new task, or went through this new experience. Children are excellent teachers. So I did as they wished and I was there throughout all their new experiences until they told me they didn’t need me anymore. I was to “let go” of their hand, because they could now do, whatever the task was, on their own. That was my first experience of “holding space.”
In addition, in regard to intuition and inner wisdom, as a mother, I learned that my children were on their own path… not mine, and though I didn’t know where they were going on this path (called their life), I was going along just for the ride, just to hold space. I had faith in them through each of these new experiences, and they have never proven me wrong – even to this day! I learned to trusted in their own intuition and wisdom. And they in turn, without me having to force my expert opinion on them, knew that when needed, they could always ask for my opinion.
Again, don’t get me wrong…as children, they could only learn so much so fast… so I shared with them everything I knew and exposed them to the ‘experts,” but taught them to make their own decisions just as I had taught myself. Many times my children were ready to transition to something new and me–myself was not ready. I asked them to hold space for me – to hold my hand, so that I could become comfortable and understand what they already knew. I always gave them encouragement…giving them autonomy to make their own choices, but shared with them lovingly the consequences to their decisions when applicable. I had to keep my selfishness, my opinions, and my ego, out of the picture as this had nothing to do with me – it was all about them. It was their life not mine. Decisions I would make for my life would not necessarily fit their life. And if mistakes were made…it was okay, as mistakes are part of learning, growing, and becoming a strong and self-sufficient person.
When my youngest was three, I became a coach. Now we didn’t call it coaching back then, but I had to learn, just like with my children, that when my clients came to me…they didn’t need me to fix them, they didn’t need me to solve all their problems…they needed me to be there as a sounding board, give suggestions, provide ideas – a different perspective and when asked, my opinion. Life can be hard enough… they didn’t need me to judge or criticize – they just needed someone who would “hold their hand” through whatever they were going through, so they could do it themselves and be a success in that part of their life – that journey. The only person that can fix or change you is you…
And I would like to include my perspective concerning partners. I think the most amazing thing about my husband is he knows he doesn’t have to fix anything when I am going through a new experience of my own. And living with this man for thirty years, I know deep down he wishes he could just fix everything for me. But he knows that I am a strong person and that I fix myself quite well. He is always ready to hold space for me and he encourages me, as we do our children, to experience life…they were meant to.
Each and every one of us are on different paths, experiencing different journeys, learning things in different ways, and no two people are, nor ever will be, the same. We are all pieces of the massive puzzle and each piece is significant. We need all the pieces to complete the puzzle and for us, as a whole, to see the big picture – the completed puzzle, we will all have to come together and connect. So next time someone is complaining, don’t try to fix them or the problem, just hold space for them and let them experience whatever they need to experience, always giving them encouragement and support without criticism or judgement.
So from all those perspectives, I strive to “hold space” for every person I meet, knowing that this person is unique and will NOT be like me, will NOT see things from my perspective, may NOT have experienced life the way I have, but that I can still be part of their life, part of that journey, and if they ask…just be there to “hold their hand!”
Please share your experiences, your opinions, on holding space for yourself or someone else.